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A trip to…Lakewood Ohio

Lakewood is like a beacon of light for many Clevelanders trying to escape the bad press that our city has accumulated over the past years. This neighborhood on the West Side is actually something that no one wants to mess with; just last month it received accolades from Travel and Leisure as one of the coolest suburbs in America. The city has the highest population density in the region, with the most young adults, first time homebuyers, and gay and lesbian residents of anywhere in the Cleveland area. With all of these bohemian and cultured kids calling the city home, the local restaurants, coffee shops, and corner bars have thrived. Whether considering moving, going for a walk on the shores of Lake Erie, or just trying to find a great cup of coffee, Lakewood has a number of hot spots in its city limits.

Founded in 1889, Lakewood is an inner-ring suburb of Cleveland that can be reached by any of our three major interstates; Route 2, I-71, or I-90 West. Lakewood technically covers about 5.6 miles, from Lorain Blvd. straight to Clifton and Edgewater Park. With plenty of beautiful old homes and historic buildings, the whole town seems to have a vintage feel, encapsulated by the art galleries and restaurants that take up the storefronts of the city. Many of the shops and restaurants here give direct homage to their vintage roots.

One such shop is Flower Child on Clifton Blvd. and W 117th Street. This vintage boutique is crammed full of memorabilia from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Vintage furniture, clothing, knick knacks, and even authentic Cleveland antiques can be found here. Take about an hour out of your day to come explore every inch of the shop and the great things they have to offer. Next door is the West Side extension of Big Fun on Coventry. These guys specialize in games, old toys, silly putty, and everything from your childhood. Take a walk down Clifton and onto memory lane as you go gaga over these treasures.

Lakewood is also home to an array of art galleries, print shops, artist’s studios, and boutiques. Moto Gallery on Madison Ave. fuses art and Mopeds together. Look through their gallery and find not only art for your home, but perhaps your ride back. Across the street is Pop Shop Gallery, run by Richard Cihlar that features local artists and extremely reasonable prices. Shows here rotate every 4 to 6 weeks to keep it fresh. Detroit Avenue also hosts a variety of galleries including Local Girl Gallery, Dead Horse Gallery, and Wall Eye Gallery.

Coffee houses Bella Dubby and The Root Café act as jacks of all trades sponsoring live music, hanging local art work, and serving a mean cup of espresso. They each are great at what they do, but they have some differences between them. Bella Dubby has a corner shop type of feel furnished with vintage tables and chairs all in close proximity to one another. These guys host all types of music from indie rock, to noise bands, and even poets on certain nights. The shop has its very own movie club and a sewing club, perfect for hipsters.

Hippies may want to check out Root Café which just debuted a vegan lunch and dinner menu and serve delicious vegan pastries all day. The Root has open mike nights and acoustic performances on weekends. They are also a favorite meeting spot for the local chapter of Food Not Bombs as well as other environmentalist organizations. The café recently expanded from its old quarters next door, so everything is new and they are still growing. Both shops have a wi-fi connection.

Those looking for live music and a drink can find both at Now That’s Class on Detroit Ave. near Lakewood’s Cleveland border. The bar has that classic hole in the wall feel, serving cheap drinks to the locals. With stages in the bar, the basement, and in a separate concert room, many shows often take place at once. Now That’s Class also sports two patios and plenty of room to drunkenly skateboard on a wooden half pipe outside. If live music isn’t quite your style, Lakewood has an array of record shops including My Mind’s Eye on Madison Ave. and The Bent Crayon on Detroit Ave.

Now for the best part – the food. Lakewood is known to make a mean grilled cheese, as the first Melt Bar and Grilled originated on Detroit Avenue in 2006. Aladdin’s Eatery, a restaurant featuring middle eastern cuisine, sits further down on the same street. But one of the lesser known attractions is the new Buckeye Beer Engine.

“Their beer selection is incredible and they have fried pickles. What more could you want?” asks Emma Sleva, a native Lakewoodian and food enthusiast. The Buckeye Beer Engine on Madison Ave. also offers a huge selection of gourmet burgers. This month you can taste one of their specials, either the “Really Gouda Burger” with baked beans, lots of smoked Gouda cheese, and bacon or the “Brunch Burger” topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy, all on an English muffin. “They are the Melt of burgers,” Sleva adds.

Look both ways and cross the street for some delicious desert and candy delicacies at Malley’s Chocolates. Malley’s is a Cleveland based candy company with their factory located in beautiful Parma, OH. Several local Malley’s are also ice cream shops that have store themes, and the Lakewood Shop is home to Alice in Wonderland’s magical forest. They have all sorts of assorted chocolates from pecan pralines to mocha truffles.

You can even walk off all that food by driving over to Edgewater Park to catch the sunset and sit on the beach. As winter approaches, it probably isn’t the best time to take a swim but it’s definitely the right moment to enjoy the Northern Ohio fall scenery and admire the lit up Cleveland cityscape from Edgewater Park.

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